Naming A Book Is Almost As Important As Naming A Child

naming a book is always a challengeIf you are less well known than Stephen King, your book titles (and covers) are of paramount importance in attracting new readers. Allowing for a slight exaggeration, each week about a million new books are published, glutting the market. Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and so forth make it easy to publish a book. It’s pretty cheap, too.  Expect your dry cleaner or local dog walker to be putting one out any minute. Vanity Publishing. It’s all the rage.

In fact, there are even programs for sale on the internet that will write the book for you. You merely provide a subject matter and it’s off. It will write paragraph after paragraph and keep on going until you tell it to stop. 15,000 words? 30? Just plug it in, baby, and go to a movie. A double feature if you want an 85K book.

So we have arrived. Now the ‘author’ no longer needs to write a sentence in order to produce a book. Actually, you don’t even need to be in the same room. Naming a book is super important.

This can cause a certain amount of trouble for actual writers trying to write actual books. Nowadays, you not only have to write a damned good book, you have to make people notice and choose it from the multitudes. To that end, you cannot spend too much time or thought in choosing the right book title (and cover).

1 – The title should be short and catchy – dare I say clever – pulling the reader in immediately. Even if they don’t know who the devil you are, ideally, the thumbnail image of the book should make them pause for a moment to look it over. My latest book, The CEO Came DOA, book five of the Alvarez Family Mysteries, I believe accomplishes that. When the title came to me out of the blue, I wrote the entire story around it. A bit unusual, but I knew it was the perfect book title and might lead to something good. Glad to say, it did.

2 – If you’re writing a series, each title should work with the others, (just like the book covers). Notice I keep putting any reference to book covers in parentheses. This is because we’re only supposed to be talking about the book titles. But, frankly, they go hand in hand. You need to have both at primo.

3 – Most importantly, make sure it’s an unused title (and try not to have a book cover that looks like everyone else’s). What I do is type the title I’m thinking of using into Amazon to see if another book pops up. When I named the second of the Alvarez Series, A Wedding to Die For, I hadn’t thought about that. After the book was published, I saw there were two others with the same title. This can lead to confusion on the reader’s part. Plus, you don’t want to be publicizing someone else’s books when you’re trying to push your own. Fortunately for me, the two titles were for older books, but it was a lesson well learned.

4 – Writing, like Life, is a question of learning lessons.

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Please visit these other writers by simply clicking on their names. Their slant on this issue should be very interesting and informative.

Happy writing and happy reading!

Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire 
Victoria Chatham
Skye Taylor
Judith Copek
Helena Fairfax
Dr. Bob Rich
Connie Vines
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosinski
Rhobin Courtright

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15 Comments:

  1. Right so we must be careful in doing this.

  2. Great post! And I love your title, The CEO arrived DOA. That is really great. Totally agree about the series books. With the series, the cover is important too, and if you get them both right, then you have a terrific brand and your fans and readers can home in on them right away.
    Did not know about the ghost writing scam. Kind of disgusting really, but not so different than celebrity autobiographies that they don’t write.

    • Hi Judith! Thanks for dropping by. This was a fun blog to write. There’ s always some enterprising person with no conscience or appreciation for how things should be done, so this self-writing scam is no surprise to me.
      Thanks again! H

  3. Heather–WHOA. I did not know any of the info you wrote in the beginning about all that ghost-writing-y stuff. That’s sort of nerve-wracking! Lots of interesting points–though I do have a funny story about a title that made me roll my eyes. I worked at the bookstore this summer between college semesters, and we had a cozy mystery section where there was a whole hoard of silly-titled books that had to do with culinary themes. One was “Ming Tea Murder.” I thought they were ridiculous, but because they were so silly and cheaply priced (each one cost only five or six dollars), I was almost tempted to buy one. So sometimes the stupid title might catch someone!

  4. A program to write a book? That’s akin to putting a monkey in front of a computer for long enough and have him write Shakespeare! I always am proud of the books I produce because they are mine. I’d have no satisfaction as an author if a program produced a story for me.

    • They do it for the money, Victoria. They get a catchy title, good cover, and market like crazy. Imagine if they had a good product?

  5. What do you mean, “almost?” My book IS my baby!

  6. Interesting information! Let a machine write your book; how clever. I wonder if its worth reading?

    Loved your last point: 4 – Writing, like Life, is a question of learning lessons.

    So true.

  7. Your comment about naming books being as important as naming children took me back to naming my oldest son. Mike’s father and I were both fond of “Ian Michael,” but my mother weighed in in favor of Michael, so we ended up naming him “Michael Ian.” There was far less negotiation involved in naming my books — my publisher had no objection to my title choices.

    • Glad to hear it! Some writers have no say in the title or the cover. The publisher has that kind of control. Frustrating!

  8. Interestingly enough, I think all but one of my books has a unique title. I try to choose something that shows what the book is about as well. Titles like “I Know What You Did Last Summer” make me roll my eyes. If I do that, I’m not picking it up. Of course, I don’t think I’m their demographic. 😀

    I have discovered I’m better at naming other people’s work than my own. Do you find that to be true?

    • Marci, I would have to read the work first, of course, but by the time I get it, it already seems to have a title. But for sure, I can come up with a better cover many times. I understand the mechanics of it, which some writers don’t. I do mine myself most of the time. I am not uniquely talented (at all). In fact, it takes me much longer to come up with something. I don’t have the gift. What I do have – sometimes – is a vision and it’s nice not to have to compromise on it. That said, my friend Jeff Monaghan came up with the concept for the covers for the Alvarez Family Mysteries and I just reinvent it for each new book of the series. It’s all a learning game.

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